Blackbean Industrial Marketing

Are we in the age of AI yet?

2 min read

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You see that banner image up there? A robot made it in less than 10 minutes.

There's a famous book on Python programming called Automate the Boring Stuff. The author teaches a variety of techniques for automating simple workplace tasks: filling in spreadsheets, generating reports — you know, boring stuff.

We've lived in this era of automation for some years. Although automation has been slow to trickle down to small businesses, it's more present now than ever. Companies use automation without realizing it: scheduled emails, recurring calendar events, weekly SEO reports. These things are commonplace. They're automation.

None of these basic automations require AI, though the term gets thrown around a lot. These are the simple machines of computing, the pulleys and levers and inclined planes that make basic work possible. Such automations are as simple as they are powerful. But what's next? When do we get to the point of widespread AI automation?

It's coming, and quickly. Let's consider language translation first.

Machine translation used to be crude. A dictionary of words in one language would be mapped to a dictionary of words in another. Issues and mistakes within that mapping — or with ambiguous words lacking a direct translation — would quickly turn translated text into gibberish.

Today, machine translation uses AI. As the internal combustion engine is an immensely complex machine assembled from relatively simple components, AIs are extremely complex programs from those 'simple machines' we discussed earlier. AIs 'learn' and improve over time by sifting through millions of earlier translations.

AIs have the computing power to find patterns of meaning across massive sets of data. Then, AIs apply these patterns to the following translation, learn from that translation, and so on. This would be impossibly laborious to identify and program from scratch. Over time, like the evolution of a simple organism, AI becomes more specialized, more accurate, and more powerful.

AI is, for many people, a scary thought. I'll let you insert your own Skynet joke here. While true machine intelligence would indeed be a total paradigm shift for humanity, we're a long way off — if ever we get there. Right now, AI opens a lot of exciting doors (without dooming humankind).

AI can write blog posts from a single sentence. It can produce art from a short text prompt. AI will be a part of your business in the near future — if it isn't already.

Machines are tools, like anything else. As we enter the second age of automation, remember to make use of them.

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